Tides turn, seasons change, weather passes. Nothing is as consistent as inconsistency. Everything in life develops and as much as our surroundings and environment continuously evolves, we do too. Sometimes dramatically in wild and wonderful ways seemingly over night and other times gently without notice. It is often during (but mostly after) these moon like phases we go through that we notice a lesson learnt, a purpose or reason and a sudden acceptation of letting go of what once was, and embracing what can be.
As I am lucky enough to celebrate another birthday, I was hoping to share with you some of those lessons that, upon reflection, I have
This is something that has taken me an embarrassingly long time to figure out. Besides my mum, I've never really had a best friend. Don't get me wrong I've had/ have many wonderful friendships, some that have survived the years only to become stronger with time and others that have blossomed more recently but never that classic BFF that you hear about or see so often in movies. The thing that comes with age is the realisation that there is no 'one size fits all' model for pals and really all we need to do is stop worrying about what we 'should' have and be grateful for those that we do have. Friendships, like everything else, change too. Sometimes you out grow childhood buddies- drift apart with differing interests and priorities or maybe you feel the need to cut particular characters out of your life entirely. Work colleagues can become solid shoulders to cry on, the gals in your pilates class might be your go to for sharing a giggle- there will always be fluid relationships that fit around your wants and needs, varying depths of friendship that develop naturally. Actually, since moving countries I've even found some bonds have strengthened despite the distance and in finding a neat way to make your friends and life fit together and most importantly by putting in the effort to maintain a friendship, this can really help things flourish and ensure the folks around you know how appreciated they are.
Learn To Say No
Something I have struggled with most of my life, being a stereotypical people pleaser. This personality trait can be such a ball ache. You can not make every person happy, it just isn't going to happen (not without stretching yourself paper thin), so learnt to say no, to choose for yourself what you want to do and simply turn down the rest. In fact so often, the more open you are with people the better a reaction you get. This goes for family and friends, but also colleagues or even job offers and project invitations- if it doesn't feel right then maybe it's best to just say no. For me, it has become a very powerful tool, one that has taken a lot of practise to get used to but has lifted my confidence leaps and bounds and has allowed me to refine my priorities and live a much happier life that I've crafted myself. But please don't misunderstand my meaning here, if there are opportunities that interest you then jump in with both feet! The complete flip side to saying no is to take a deep breath and just bite the bullet, but my point above all else is to just exercise your right to choose.
Be Kind To Yourself
This is as simple as it sounds but I so often forget the importance of self love. The pressures we put on ourselves, the unobtainable goals and ever mounting stress to achieve 'perfection'- ahem... putting this in perspective, who do we even think we are? I mean really, perfectionism is a bit narcissistic if you think about it. How about we simply pledge to do our utmost, to continue to move forward, to adapt to our surroundings and situations and to give it everything (within reason), and just leave the ridiculous, ever changing goal posts of the elusive ideal? I choose to make my own rules. To notice when I need time out, to step away from the situation and just breathe. To let go of cumbersome burdens such as misplaced guilt and heavy AF grudges. To say 'screw you' to those socially precious body image standards, the stereotypes shoved on us depending on gender, age, race, the expectations of where we're 'supposed' to be in 5 years/ 10 years. No thanks, you can keep it. I've learnt over the years to quit the constant comparisons and to just get on with things at my own pace.
Some lucky sons of guns are blessed with a healthy dose of confidence from a young age, or are simply of the 'don't give a fudge' nature- how refreshing that must be. I however have struggled with confidence for most of my life. Despite being an outgoing and courageous kid I lost my umph once I hit secondary school and have been searching for it ever since. It is such a shame to let something like lack of self confidence ruin opportunities or experiences and even more of a headspin is being aware of it but not knowing how to tackle it. I have no solid advice for how to get over this, as for me this came with age. At my wise old status in life I have learnt how to not give too much of a shit what people think and to be more selfish- in that I push myself forward with the thought that everyone else is doing the exact same thing. Keeping things in perspective helps, knowing your stuff, building a solid argument, remembering that you're just as important as everyone else and dropping all of the nonsense holding you back, will certainly give you a boost.
Call me grandma, but after speaking to some of the younger folks in my life recently it's hard not to notice this desire to rush through everything. I'm sure I was exactly the same at some point but I really just want to scream "Slow the heck down!" Where does this need come from? To have your studies/ career/ love life/ entire shit figured out. I'm sorry guys, but life just doesn't work like that. Plan all you like, in fact having working goals is fantastic, but leave off the time pressures. I planned on having a long career in theatre/ film after slogging away at my costume design degree and years of experience in that field, only to fall for a tall Dutch guy and move to the furthest point of civilisation (and theatre land) possible in the Netherlands (might have been a touch overly dramatic here). Priorities and desires change. Catch my drift? Stop racing ahead, savour every stage of your life and be darn picky! You can afford to learn who you are and want you want before speeding off into marriages and such. Be choosy, change your mind, live your life for you and that way you'll welcome such experiences and opportunities that just might lead you somewhere you may never have planned. All in good time.
Having a few personal objectives help keep things on track and work as a gentle reminder to put the above points in practice. Such as; making an effort to keep in touch with people even via a simple postcard or phone call / keeping a journal recording everything down from important dates and projects to daily tasks, thoughts and memories / I've decided to take more photographs as keepsakes but also to improve my skills (vastly needed) / to indulge in reading / to explore more and appreciate my environment / to get off my butt and set myself new projects.
While that, my loves, was my two cents, I by no means have a clear outlook of what I want or expect from my near future, but you know what? I don't really mind all that much. I'm happy and healthy, I have some great people around me and more than a few creative inspirations that keep a wee fire in my belly glowing. I will continue to reflect and take stock of my wants and needs and hopefully have the courage to redirect my path as necessary. Above all else I just want to work towards being the best version of myself.